Parts suppliers are scrambling to play a role in the industry's new effort to convert automotive factory capacity to the production of ventilators, respirators, masks, hospital gowns and other key medical supplies to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
But first they must sort through a host of real-world manufacturing questions — such as how to obtain the necessary tooling to produce the items, how to properly train their workers, and how to provide quality assurance on unfamiliar products.
Vehicle door handle and exterior mirror supplier ADAC Automotive last week signed up for duty in the health crisis.
Carol Stewart, ADAC executive vice president, told Automotive News in a statement that the Grand Rapids, Mich., company is working with General Motors to "identify if we can support production of critical parts for medical ventilators." The company declined further comment.
Canadian supply giant Magna International said in a statement last week that it is in "active discussions with different automakers on providing parts for ventilators, face shields and more."
Powertrain parts supplier BorgWarner Inc., steering systems and driveline supplier Nexteer Automotive and German supplier Hella were also considering the switch last week, the companies said.
Seatmaker Adient said that five of its European seating trim plants are already making reusable face masks for use by hospitals, retirement homes and company employees.
Other suppliers, such as vehicle structural products maker Benteler Group, say their current production does not support making medical equipment.